The European police, FBI bust international cybercrime gang

German police say they have disrupted an international cybercrime gang that has been blackmailing major companies and institutions for years.

BERLIN — German police said on Monday they had disrupted an international cybercrime gang that had been blackmailing major companies and institutions for years, making off with millions of euros.

Working with law enforcement partners including Europol, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation and Ukrainian authorities, police in Duesseldorf said they identified 11 individuals involved in a group operating in various forms since 2010.

Among its most famous victims was the Duesseldorf University Hospital, whose computers were infected by a type of ransomware known as DoppelPaymer in 2020. A woman who needed urgent treatment died after she had to be taken to another city to treatable.

Dirk Kunze, who heads the cybercrime department with the North Rhine-Westphalia state police, said at least 601 victims were known worldwide, including 37 in Germany. Europol said victims in the United States paid at least 40 million euros ($42.5 million) to the gang between May 2019 and March 2021.

The group specializes in “big game hunting,” Kunze said, and runs a professional recruiting operation, luring new members with the promise of paid vacations and asking applicants to submit references for past cyber crimes.

He said the police conducted simultaneous raids in Germany and Ukraine on February 28, seizing evidence and detaining several suspects. Three additional suspects – two of whom are Russian citizens – will not be arrested because they are beyond the reach of European law enforcement, Kunze said.

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